Currently on art: Post-FFM 2021, the upcoming studying year, two released games

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since the previous Currently on art update, so it’s time to write and post another one!

I was actually supposed to write this update (and do a bunch of other things) earlier this week, but I ended up getting sick, which threw a major wrench in all of my plans. Fortunately, it’s not COVID, but my productivity did take a major hit since I didn’t feel up for working on most of the things. Plus, I’m staying indoors basically in quarantine until I’ve gotten better to avoid infecting anyone else and causing unnecessary COVID tests, so I haven’t been able to run the errands I was supposed to.

In other news, FFM 2021 came and went. It was a blast even though there was a challenge or two that brought me a good bunch of headache. The FFM Discord channel also brought its own fun into the mix, as at some point during the month an AI that generates images based on prompts was shared there and mostly cursed mayhem ensued.

This year, the story I want to highlight is my favorite, A Fake News Cake from day 15. I did debate between highlighting it and day 17’s story, A Dark Heart, but since the FFM version of the latter is a majorly cut one, I decided to give the spotlight to A Fake News Cake. The full version of A Dark Heart will be in the upcoming FFM 2021 collection, which will come sometime during the autumn. When exactly, I’m not sure; I’m planning to start working on it in early September, but since my studies are starting around the same time, I may have to postpone that if the initial workload turns out too big.

Speaking of my studies, I have news: a few days into FFM, I managed to finish my last bachelor’s degree course and my degree was approved earlier this month. I’ll be beginning my Master’s degree studies now. Woo! I’ll most likely spend most of my studying time of this semester at home since my city’s COVID situation has once again taken a turn for worse and I suspect that most, if not all, of my courses will be remote ones. Hopefully by the time the spring semester begins, the situation has become so good that we can finally get back to normal, what with more people getting fully vaccinated. At least I want to hold onto the hope that we’ll be able to celebrate May Day like we used to before the pandemic next year and that by the time I get my Master’s degree, things will be fully normal again.

Well, we’ll see how things are closer to the end of the year. I hope the situation will be far better by then. While I wait for that, I’ll try to have a healthier work/life balance and actually allocate time for self-care and personal projects. Maybe this time at least a part of it will stick and I’ll start to lead a more organized life instead of the semi-organized chaos that life has been especially ever since the pandemic hit my country.

In the meantime, instead of working on the web programming project I was supposed to start, I found myself bitten by a Transformers Prime inspiration bug and went on a long-needed revising spree with The Fate’s Way and, at the same time, migrated it to Archive of Our Own from FanFiction.Net since I got frustrated with the appearance of pop-up ads on FFN and decided that TFW, much like Lyokostar 1, can find a better and more organized home on AO3. As a sidenote, before anyone mentions Adblock, I know it’s an option, but I’m of the opinion that if a site gets obnoxious enough with its ads that I’d need it to use Adblock, I’m better off with a competitor (if one exists, which unfortunately isn’t the case with YouTube). Anyways, my TFW revising spree was going on surprisingly well until I got sick, which ground the whole thing to a halt. I’ll be resuming it once I’ve well enough to be certain that my less-than-optimal state won’t affect the quality of the revisions negatively. I’ll probably begin the web programming project once I’ve gotten better AND gotten a functioning Linux installed on my laptop, whether it’s Kubuntu (or some other Ubuntu derivative) or some other distribution.

Oh, and I also made two game jam games during FFM with a friend of mine: Well, Well, Well, a Twine game where you end up into a well and have to get out through underground tunnels, and Campfire Tales, a 1000-word visual novel made with Ren’Py where you can hear a story about ghosts, garlic bread or dragons. I handled writing, audio and a notable part of the coding, while my friend nofuu did suberb art for both games. Please do check them out; they’re both free to play!

Now that what’s happened since the previous post has been discussed, here’s the FFM 2021 statistics!

FFM 2021 statistics

Now, let’s see how things are going with my projects, as per my project widget:

  • Exceptional Jedi: Chapter 9 of Aces is in progress. All writing is at 1881 days. Jedova’s reference has seen quite little progress, although I did get to move to back view’s lineart. I need to make a comic about Valentine Clanker and lots of other drawings. I’ve been creating data on Scrivener to build a wiki of sorts there so that I can flesh things out for writing, although it hasn’t been progressing at all for a good while since I haven’t had much inspiration with EJ. Revising is still in a standtill.
  • The Fate’s Way: Chapter 48 is in editing. I still need to redraw the regular Alyssa and also Alyssa’s friends and family and the other important people, like Matti, someday. I’ve revised chapters 1-18 and the halloween special and posted the revised versions on Archive of Our Own as the definitive edition, while the FFN version has been abandoned and now directs any prospecting readers to AO3. I’ve got the revised versions of chapters 19 and 20 waiting for alphareading, but that’ll have to wait until I’ve healed and can put out the best versions of the chapter I currently can.
  • Off-DA projects: Nothing has happened here.
  • Greenfield: I haven’t edited this much since FFM and TFW‘s revising have taken higher priority (and interest). I’m currently working on editing chapter 3. Read more about the project here.
  • Lyokostar: The translation of Lyokostar 1 has been put on a hiatus because I can’t deal with the shitty writing that’s the current original version right now. It’ll definitely be a while before I tackle Altestar 2‘s translation. I’ve got some parts and Megastar 6 still unreleased because I haven’t gotten around to doing it; they’ll appear online at some point. The monthly Lyokostar 3 oneshots in Finnish are on a hiatus because nobody cares. References need to be done.
  • A Wandering Aura: I haven’t worked on this at all for a long while since I haven’t found the time and enough interest for it.
  • Gaming: Habitica, Duolingo, Pokemon GO and Pokémon Masters EX keep on going. I’ve also returned to playing Transformers: War for Cybertron, but more than that I’ve been playing Ghost of Thushima.
  • Other stuff: I’ve got a new FFM reading backlog to go through during the following months. I’m taking a break from making collections. Reading is mostly still in a standstill on the book side, although I did read a bit of Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to The Force. I made two games during FFM with a friend (Well, Well, Well and Campfire Tales). I should get back to video editing.
  • Personal life: COVID is still going on, as usual. I’ve gotten my Bachelor’s degree and my first COVID vaccine dose, plus I’ve gotten through FFM and two game jams. The new studying year and my Master’s degree’s studies are starting soon.

I’d say that’s all for this update. Thanks for reading, take care, keep wearing masks and get vaccinated!

FFM 2021 31: Unlikely Allies

Challenge: Collaborate with at least one other writer. You need to write a story that begins with SarcasticCupcake5‘s line This isn’t my body. and ends with TuesdayNightCompany‘s line But neither of us were sorry, were we? (these two were chosen by community vote on FFM’s Discord channel). In addition to that, you need to use two separate things from fellow collaborators’ answer to the sign-up sheet’s question 2.

If you instead choose to work alone, you need to write a response story to someone else’s story from that month with the same elements, only that you’re not limited to certain fellow people when looking for the two elements from the sign-up sheet.

I collaborated with MyLovingWife, whose story you can read here. Our elements were Redemption & Antagonist not entirely evil for me and Magic & representation for asexuals (picked from my question 3 since my question 2 only had one answer) for MyLovingWife. While we worked on the outline and events together, we wrote from different points of view, so make sure you check my partner’s story as well! It’s far more amusing than mine!

Fun fact: Satanic nightjar is a real-life bird (which I wanted to get into a story the moment I heard about it a couple of days ago). If you’re interested, you should check the Etymology part of the linked Wikipedia page to see why it’s called that.

“This isn’t my body.” Bronwyn looked at me. “Why is this not my body? What did you do this time?”

I frowned. “Why are you blaming me? I wasn’t the one who did that.”

“I can smell your brand of magic, Lipner. It stinks!”

Of course she retained her sense of smell despite of turning into a bird. “Besides, be glad that you didn’t turn into a Satanic nightjar. Betty is in her mating season, you know.” I gestured to the bird on my shoulder as if Bronwyn had not interrupted me. Hopefully it’d throw her off.

“Those disgusting…” Was it a shudder running through Bronwyn’s feathers? “When it’s this long, it shouldn’t be called a ‘season’ anymore.” 

I snorted. “Oh, right, I forgot that you’re uninclined.”

“You always ‘forget’. Remember last time? Frat boys, really? Every time you play with powers too big for you, I get stuck cleaning up your mess. And now I’m a blasted bird.” 

Heh, that was a fun time. I grinned. “Not just any blasted bird — a phoenix!”

“Not any… What the heck…” Bronwyn paused. “I’m going to…” She… bristled? It was hard to tell with the limited body language birds had. “I hear that bird of yours is called a Satanic nightjar because their call sounds like a bird pecking out a person’s eye. Shall we test the theory?”

“Whoa, now, hold on a moment.” I raised my hands up. Hopefully she’d interpret it as a gesture of peace (although I could definitely cast a spell from the same position if she attacked). “I’m not in the mood to fight. I’ve got things to do, so how about we make a deal?”

“A deal? With you? How will you screw me over this time? I’m not pulling the same stunt as with that stupid tsunami. I couldn’t feel my arms for 3 weeks.”

I rolled my eyes. “No screwing over — besides, your arm problems were your own fault. Who told you to jump through that window into the flood? Not me, that’s for sure.” I shook my head. “Anyway, here’s my proposition: you help me get a hydra scale and, once we’ve done that, I’ll turn your body back to normal. No messing around, just a favor for a favor. What do you say?”

“A hydra scale? What for?” Bronwyn gave me a weird look. Was she angry? She did look angry, but then again that was her default mood with me.

I cocked my head. “What’s up with that stare? Do you happen to be interested in Betty even though you’re a phoenix? Not that I blame you; you are a bird now after all.”

“Shut up! Or I will peck your eyes out. Why do you need a hydra scale?”

“Such aggression,” I said with a sigh. “Don’t worry, it’s nothing evil. It’s for an anti-pest potion; Lovella thought that it’d be funny to drop some Superion bugs into my apartment.”

“You’re probably lying… But I don’t have much of a choice, do I? Fine. We have a deal.” 

Finally some progress! “Excellent!”

I could recognize the hulking figure anywhere. “Ah, crud.”

The figure turned. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Iva Lipner.”

“Wedgworth. Didn’t expect to see you here.”

“After the hydra’s fangs and the undead armies they can raise, are you?”

“Nah, I just need a scale for an anti-pest potion. Lovella did her thing again.”

“Hah! Of course you’d think of only the short run.”

I shrugged. “At least we don’t have to fight over the resources.”

“You truly think I will let you raise an army? Over my dead body, Wedgworth.”

“Who the…? Bronwyn?” Wedgworth laughed.

“She got turned into a phoenix, so she’s helping me out in exchange for getting turned back to normal.” I rolled my eyes. If only she’d kept her mouth — beak — shut. “I figured another feathered sidekick — one I wouldn’t mind losing — wouldn’t hurt in case the hydra gets fussy about parting with one of its scales.”

“You mother…” Bronwyn paused, turning her attention from me to Wedgworth. “Let’s test that eye pecking theory.”

I looked at Bronwyn. “If you insist on that, you do you. I’m not going to attack a colleague without a reason, though.” I turned away. “I’ll go get the scale, you handle your agenda.”

“Without a reason?”

Well… yeah?? “In case you have forgotten, Wedgworth and I are on the same side, unlike you and us.” I waved my hand while walking away. “Have fun with him, though!”

After getting the scale I needed from the hydra, I returned to a fire spreading into the lair, a pile of ash and Pinkie Wedgworth with his left eye bleeding. With the way the fire was just now, it would have been easy to just walk away. Bronwyn would not come back to life just yet, so I had ample time to get away and not fulfill my part of the deal (not that Bronwyn had been particularly helpful on her part). I could definitely install some anti-phoenix measures and make sure that my eyes stayed intact.

I should have just walked away and let my colleague do his thing like I usually did. Like every villain should have done as long as they were unaffected.

Instead, I turned back and brought the hydra out to deal with Pinkie.

I sighed as we looked into the sunset. “Well, that was an unusually profitable deal. I got the hydra scale I need, you got your body back and got to rid the world of Pinkie Wedgworth — just don’t tell anyone that I technically helped by getting the hydra to help or else his cronies will come after me — and we both befriended a hydra in the process. A good day, wouldn’t you say?”

Bronwyn did not appear to be so positive. “I wish we didn’t have to use the Danaids’ water to stop the fire. They were almost done…”

Big whoop. “But neither of us were sorry, were we?”

FFM 2021 30: What A Malfunction Can Do

No prompts used.

A pauraque’s alarmed call echoed somewhere within the woods. Zenona walked deeper, each of xeir steps rustling something. Had xe not had Koori on xeir shoulder, chattering away about the area as if there was not a severe malfunction on Aegis I, xe would have been terrified of what may be out there within the jungle greenhouse.

Nevertheless, xe had to find Elsie and fast. Every technomancer was needed now more than ever.

Xe did find Elsie, but it was too late. She was already gone, crushed under a fallen tree. She must have been there when the malfunction had shaken the whole ship like an earthquake.

Zenona’s anguished cry startled even the predators that lurked near the body.

FFM 2021 29: Yeah-man

Challenge: The main character must be considered a superhero or supervillain (with actual superpowers and not power from tech suits) and an unconventional form of transportation must appear somewhere in the story. As a bonus element, add an apathetic side-kick.

I decided to make an all-dialogue story (I believe mentioning a toucan-pulled balloon does qualify for an unconventional transport appearing), and by accident this ended up getting so near drabble length that I made this into a drabble.

“And the toucans that escaped my Toucan Balloon’s reins must be found and brought back or replaced! I need my toucan-pulled transport!”
“And I need more Tu crystals. Our last fight with that blasted Je-Person drained my powers — I can’t do even an Ice Ball anymore!”
“…Are you quite all right, Sides? You’re… even more untalkative than usual today.”
“Yeah, I’m fine…”
“…Very well. You know, if you ever need to talk about anything — workload, other concerns, the fate of the universe — you can talk to me, right?”
“…Good. So, back to getting Tu crystals then…”

FFM 2021 28: A Collapsing Galaxy

No prompts used, although I was in a mood for destroying a galaxy. Set into the same universe as the stories about the Heavy Metal Sanctuary. Filter words have been avoided as part of the week’s sidequest.

At the first sight of danger, the richest fled.

When it became clear that the planet was doomed, the wealthy took their leave.

The ones who could barely afford the trip away left only after the black hole had expanded close to them and an evacuation order had been given.

The ones who could not afford to leave were left behind to die.

The primitives only found out what was happening when it was far too late.

The most primitive had no idea that their very own galaxy was collapsing as they hunted for ostriches.

FFM 2021 27: Fight

David Bowie Day challenge: Choose at least five of 42 words that provided the framework for the album The Next Day and use them to inspire the story, generate a random Bowie song with this randomizer and pick at least one line of lyrics that speaks to you and pick the name of the first song the randomizer on your music library/player/provider gives and use it as the title of the story.

My elements are: Violence, Interface, Indifference, Flight, Identity as the words, these lyrics from the song If You Can See Me: From nowhere to nothing/And I go way back/Children swarm like thousands of bugs/Towards the lights the beacons above the hill/The stars to the West, the South, the North/And to the East/Now you could say I’ve got a gift of sorts/A fear of rear windows and swinging doors /A love of violence a dread of sighs/If you can see me I can see you/If you can see me I can see you and the title comes from the song Fight by All Good Things.

This story is also for this week’s sidequest, which is avoiding filter words.

Like a great horned owl, They glided over the battlefield, Their jet giving them a clear view of what was going on beneath Them: children swarming one another like two opposing colonies of Earth ants. Whoever would survive had a chance of reaching the stars on Their jet.

(The fact that seeing Their jet had always made matters worse, spurred the children to be more vicious, turned the bloodshed even more violent and macabre never even crossed Their mind.)

They had been one of those children once. At first, observing the violence They had been bred for had been fascinating to say the least, but over time They forgot who They had been down there. As the orbital station grew more deserted, the Overlords tiring of this planet, the moment They had to pull the trigger on the solar system drew closer.

(At some point They could not pinpoint, They stopped running into any other souls on the station.)

Eventually, They started to wonder if there was any point to any of the senseless violence. At first, They petitioned for stopping the war, but the Overlords brushed Them off on the basis that They were a Survivor-class citizen, one who would not even get a proper name before they Ascended their home orbit and left for the stars.

(Other Survivors They had met had left long ago, but They still stayed.)

Desperate to help others like They had not been, They tried to rescue any children They could, but swooping into the battlefield to catch someone and haul them to the jet only brought Them injuries; children who had not earned their survival were like rabid beasts, attacking anyone who was not a battle ally.

(Only much later did They learn that the War Breeds were born with a programming implant that made them single-minded about battling until the implant told them that they had become a Survivor.)

With all available options exhausted, They waited and hoped that the Overlords would see reason, but counting solar cycles turned to counting lunar cycles turned to counting stellar cycles. Then They lost track of all time, yet still the war on the planet continued. Blood soaked the ground, changed the vegetation’s coloring permanently, became crystals underneath the children’s very feet.

(When no one answered Them anymore about the system aside from confirming its continuing existence, They concluded that the Overlords no longer cared at all.)

Eventually, They no longer had any feelings regarding the violence that happened underneath them. That was when They finally pressed the button on the interface and watched as the station maneuvered away to give Them a better view of the destruction. Planets exploded, collided into one another, met their star in one last face-off.

(Even destroying a solar system’s worth of civilizations — most of which were far more advanced and civilized than the simple War Entertainment civilization They hailed from — for their Overlords did not evoke any emotions in Them.)

The station maneuvered towards the Upper Worlds, now bringing the final Survivor for their Ascension. They were met with a fanfare, a feast, a chance to choose a name for Themselves.

(After all the extravagant celebration, Their damaged implant was repaired and They remembered nothing more of where They had come from.)

FFM 2021 26: Smoldering Remains

No prompts used.

Veriwia looked at the smoldering remains. Even for the Dragon Warrior, it was hard to tell who or what exactly this person had been before they had been toasted. The only thing she could tell for certain was that this someone had angered a dragon — hopefully at the very least simply angered; if it was a rogue dragon what was just out there murdering people, the kingdom had a bigger problem than a sudden death by dragonfire.

Perhaps the mockingbird that was nearby could tell her more.

FFM 2021 25: No One Is Safe

No prompts used.

A blue tit flew up to me as I entered the what must have been a makeshift village. At least everything I could see in the area — poorly made buildings, gardens and a tiny field that looked like it was growing a grain of some sort — made the place look like a tiny village, a settlement made by people who thought they had gotten beyond the mechs’ reach.

The only problem was that it was dead quiet, and everything was strewn around like after a battle.

Soon, I could see why: there were bodies everywhere. I knelt next to one of them. It was still rather warm and the mech’s gun’s ammo was still glowing in the wound.

This place had been wiped out just moments ago.

I hid into an underground cellar and hoped for the best as I waited potential patrols out.

Poor people, whoever they were and whyever they thought that they could be safe in a village like this.

FFM 2021 24: Plumeria Blossoms and Bird Cages

Challenge: The story must include a color, a texture, a flavor, a scent and a temperature and there must be twenty words of dialogue at most. As a bonus, include three different scents from the answers to question 4 on this year’s sign up page.

My picks of smells are: “the bird cage needs cleaning” from NobodysSon, “An elusive fragrance of plumeria blossoms.” from KiriHearts and “Tea. The smell is tea” from telempathicangel. Plus, this is one of the stories I planned for the week’s sidequest; in fact, this is the most planned — this is the only one of the three planned stories that got a proper outline!

The wind had turned during the night. That was the first thing Sylvia noticed when she stepped to the balcony with a cup of morning tea. While last evening the scent of the stark white plumeria blossoms had downright blasted her when she had opened the window, now she had to take a deep breath to get even a hint of that now elusive scent.

No matter. She could enjoy the views anyway; this was the best time of the year, everything blossoming to its fullest. For once, she also had the chance to fully enjoy it, sitting at the balcony and sipping her… bitter… tea. Sylvia scrunched her nose at the taste. She must have left the teabag in the water for just a bit too long — just the right spot that the tea tasted bad but smelled good. Sylvia sighed and put the mug aside; she had previously used a timer to get her tea just right but it did not work as well as it used to for her, and getting used to that was taking time. No wonder she had gotten so much time off to get used to how she perceived the world now.

She had better make a new cup and pay more attention to time or else the day would be even worse. Sylvia returned to the kitchen to prepare a new cup only to perceive a new smell, one even worse than overly bitter tea.

The bird cage needed cleaning.

Sighing again, Sylvia turned to the bird cage in the living room. It was probably for the best to get to cleaning now and not later; even though she could no longer tell when the the budgies complained, her neighbors could — and her neighbors had the means of getting the message to its recipient.

Picking the cleaning equipment, Sylvia moved the budgies out of the cage and got to work. The smooth, cold metal was once comforting, but now it was one of the only things she could perceive about her birds. Now, she had to look to the side every so often to make sure that the birds were still there.

As much as it hurt to admit it, the little birds probably needed a better home than she could provide nowadays.

When Sylvia returned to the balcony, cage clean, hands washed, and a new cup of tea in hand, she could not help noting that the scenery looked strange. It was not just because of the smoke — probably yet another wildfire — or at least it should not be. It was as if the horizon was emptier now.

Sylvia checked her plumeria camera’s footage. As she rewound the footage, her jaw dropped. Behind her back, the city in the distance had been reduced to rubble.

It was probably for the best to check the phone for news and concerned text messages.

FFM 2021 23: A Metal Ballad

No prompts used.

With the ongoing tension between the shamans and the metalheads, I would have never expected to hear a collab from them. Yet there I was, shut in a sanctuary with masses of water surrounding me, listening to a metal ballad about peacocks. An excellent metal ballad about peacocks, in fact.

I had expected this predicament to bring out the worst of humanity and cause a miniature civil war inside the Heavy Metal Sanctuary, but now it’s starting to look like I was wrong for once.

That’s good news.